Christmas and Culture Shock

Hello all! I’m back from good ole Richmond, Virginia, and it was a very Merry Christmas indeed. This was my first time back in Richmond after more than 3 years, and I got to see family and friends I hadn’t seen in forever.

Jorge LOVED the US. He liked the houses, mainly because they “don’t have bars on the windows, like in Mexico”. Very true. I took him to my favorite outdoor mall, and he was a bit overwhelmed but definitely enjoying himself. I have to admit I miss US malls, too… although I did feel bad for the shirtless guy standing in the freezing cold of the Abercrombie and Fitch entrance.

I was excited to be back in my hometown of Richmond! I got to see lots of friends and family I hadn’t seen in over 3 years. Jorge got to see my high school, middle school, elementary school, church and old house.

Everything seemed so much bigger and grander than I remember. In Cancun all the houses are right next to eachother (no side yards, shared walls) and yards are usually just tiny squares of concrete. The bigger houses here have walls around them, and almost all houses here have bars on the windows. In Richmond, the yards were so huge and the houses so much larger than they needed to be that I felt like I was way in the country or something (even though it was just the suburbs). Even houses I used to think were small growing up, today they look immense!

All the shopping centers and restaurants looked so pristine it was overwhelming. Immaculate storefronts were surrounded by massive amounts of parking space. Where were the flimsy taco stands? Where were the family-owned corner stores? Why are there so many SUVs? Who would go to a huge shopping center in the middle of nowhere? (a lot of people, apparently)

The only thing big about Cancun is the potholes.

I was seeing the first stages of reverse culture shock, and I was only there for 3 days. Everything from the cars to the houses, restaurants, movie theaters and malls was just so BIG and PERFECT. It was lovely, but I was glad to get back to the sun and tiny concrete houses of Cancun.

Here are a few pics. The lights are from the James Center in downtown Richmond, and the rest are just family photos taken at my grandparents’ house.

How was your Christmas?

Still Stuck in Rio!

First of all, Id like to apologize for lack of apostrophes in this post (and the last one). I havent quite figured out how to get a good apostrophe on a Brazilian keyboard.

So yesterday I told you guys that we were stuck in Rio de Janeiro after missing our flight. Well, we are still here!

Our airline, TAM, just opened up their flights with Mexico last week, so right now they only have 1 flight going back to Mexico per day. We went to the airport at 4 am today to put ourselves on the waiting list for the flight. They were actually overbooked by 15 people (!!), so we werent able to get on. The girl at the TAM counter told us they were overbooked for Tuesday as well so it wouldnt be worth it for us to try it… but she did manage to get us on Wednesdays flight!!

I know 3 extra days in Rio sounds like an amazing deal, but its not ideal because Im missing 3 days of work and Jorge has a lot of work to do on his final project for school. We really, really just want to be home. Plus we have spent the past 36 hours either at the airport or stressed about what to do… it has NOT been fun and we have gotten very, very little sleep. Were absolutely exhausted. Were also overbudget thanks to the extra days, so we have been living off of Subway, McDonalds and Choco Krispies. Still, were mostly relieved that we wont have to fork over a few thousand bucks for a ticket back… yay!

Now that we have tickets back home and a nice, cheap place to stay today and tomorrow, we can finally kick back and relax a little bit. (We just woke up from a 5 hour nap, our first time sleeping more than 3 hours straight since Friday night).

Anyway, Im off to the beach since I have nothing better to do today 🙂 Gotta take advantage of our time here to make it worth all the frustration!

Where I´m At…

Well here we are, safe and sound back in lovely Cancun, Mexico after a fabulous, worry free honeymoon in Rio de Janeiro!

Oh WAIT…

That´s what I would be saying in an alternative universe where Jorge and I didnt miss our flight!

I wont tell the long story because… well… lets not go there.

Short version: We slept in this morning and missed our flight. Unless we can squeeze into an already full flight leaving tomorrow morning on the waiting list, we might have to pay a very large amount of money to fly back home. (Also, its difficult to communicate with anybody when its 9 am and youre in a time zone 4 hours ahead of the people who can help you.)

Luckily the apartment we were renting is still available tonight, so we came back to Copacabana and just woke up from a nice, long nap! We´re by the beach and the weather is amazing, but we just dont feel like doing anything after the morning we had.

This will hopefully be the last time you ever hear me complain about an extended vacation. Boo.

On a more pleasant note, up until this point it has been one of the best weeks of my life! Cant wait to tell you all about it when Im on the right continent.

Peace out

Our Honeymoon is Booked! Guess Where We're Going?

**I’d like to apologize to my readers in advance for any excessive use of exclamation points.**

I’d been waiting until it was official to bring this up.

Jorge and I have booked our honeymoon! (over a year late, but ya know… whatever.)

In just a few weeks, we’ll be strolling along the streets and beaches of RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL!!!!

We’ll also be spending some of our time in nearby BUZIOS!!! So gorgeous.

This is really exciting for both of us. For me, I work in the travel industry and I’m surrounded by vacationers all the time, but I rarely get to travel myself! This will be my first time outside of North America.

For Jorge, not only is it his first time outside of Mexico… it’s his first time flying!

We need to save up some vacation spending money this month, and I need to pick up the pace at the gym. (My goal is to be rich and skinny in Rio.)

What’s your dream honeymoon destination?

Vegas Weekend Part 1

I’m back from Vegas! I have a cold and started 10 hours of travel at 6 am yesterday (Pacific Time), and today I just wanna curl up and sleep… but somehow I managed to make it in to work today. That means ya’ll get to enjoy some Vegas pictures 🙂

We spent most of our time at Caesar’s Palace. My sister Sarah and I stayed the last 2 nights at Imperial Palace across the street, but anyone who’s been there knows it’s not picture-worthy. We really only went there to sleep. (It does have a great location, though!)

I didn’t take too many because I was trying to just enjoy the moment most of the time… but I got some cool ones.

Here goes:

 

View from my lounge chair at the pool

 

 

Gringation by the fountain in the Caesars Palace lobby

 

 

My lovely sister Sarah

 

 

Casino at Caesar's (love that ceiling!)

 

 

The Forum Shops and Caesars... Sarah and I were taking the "Poor Man's Tour of Las Vegas", so we just walked around and longingly stared into store windows. Good times 🙂

 

 

Beijing Noodle No. 9 at Caesar's Palace... crazy looking!

 

 

My Belgian waffle with fresh fruit at Augustus Cafe...

 

 

...and the butter and syrup to go on top of it.

 

 

The New York New York hotel

 

 

Yours truly out and about in Vegas

 

 

Mandalay Bay... probably my favorite hotel we went into. Miles and miles of restaurants & casinos... not to mention an aquarium and a lazy river! Seriously, the pool area was like a water park!

 

 

Lunch with the family at Raffles restaurant at Mandalay Bay

 

 

Walking under a sleeping lioness at the MGM

 

 

The Centrifuge at MGM

 

My favorite part was probably the view from my sister Noelle’s room at Caesar’s Palace. Got to enjoy this every day…

 

Day

 

 

Night (Bellagio Fountains!!!)

 

My overall thoughts:

As a Hotel Management major, I was in Heaven. These places are INCREDIBLE! I heard a guy at the airport say, “Vegas is like DisneyWorld for adults… pure fantasy.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

The food was expensive… but amazing.

I did a few hours of gambling at Caesar’s on Saturday night with my sisters and lost 10 bucks. It was worth it 🙂 I followed the rule that you shouldn’t gamble more than you’d want to spend, so I think I did pretty well!

I’m so glad I got to experience it! I can certainly see why people would go there… but personally I’d prefer something much more relaxing if I could go on vacation.

Tomorrow: Pictures of my sister’s wedding! It was AWESOME.